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October 2021

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1980 Mar; 4(1): 71-92.

Movement among healers in Sri Lanka: a case study of a Sinhalese patient.

Amarasingham LR.

Sinhalese patients in Sri Lanka have a variety of practitioners to choose from in seeking treatment for illness. The include: Ayurdevic physicians, Western physicians, and ritual practitioners. This paper traces the movement of a single patient seeking treatment for pissu (madness) from a number of healers. It is suggested that this movement of the patient among a variety of treatment systems allows a fluidity of diagnosis which prevents any one explanatory system from dominating her perception of her illness. It is also argued that treatments are linked by an underlying continuity of process, in which the personal antecedents of the illness are reinterpreted in terms of public representations of affliction and in which all treatments phrase illness most basically in terms of excess and imbalance.

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